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January 2007 Issue

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UC Gears Up for Major NIH Grant Application

Published January 2007

Medical research has long been the focus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But in 2002, the organization issued a “roadmap” for its future, outlining new priorities for the 21st century.

The roadmap recognized the need to strengthen and streamline the process of “translational research”—the practice of bringing innovations from the laboratory bench to the bedside and to applications within the community.

To help institutions transform the way clinical and translational research is conducted—and to create an academic home for this type of investigation—the NIH developed the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). To be given to only 60 institutions nationwide, the CTSA will eventually replace the current General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) program.

The changes, says Joel Tsevat, MD, UC assistant dean for clinical research, will significantly affect both clinical and basic scientists at universities across the country.

“When current funding for GCRCs runs out,” says Tsevat, “universities left without a Clinical and Translational Science Award will really be second-tier.”

UC’s GCRC, housed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, with a satellite operation at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is led by James Heubi, MD.

Heubi says that because UC has a GCRC, it is in a good position for receiving the new translational award—but there is no guarantee. Because of that, the university has gathered experts from across the Academic Health Center to plan UC’s CTSA application.

Last August, nearly 100 people—including academic leaders—attended a CTSA kick-off meeting. Faculty and staff have been divided into nine groups—in line with the nine focus areas of the CTSA application—to move the planning process forward.

The Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST), a joint effort at UC and Cincinnati Children’s led by Heubi and Tsevat, was awarded a $242,000 grant from the National Center for Research Resources to plan the CTSA application.

But even the planning grant, Heubi says, is no guarantee that UC will win a CTSA.

“It will take quite a bit of work for us to rethink how we are doing clinical research,” he says.

Heubi and Tsevat say interest by research staff and faculty and the work of the planning groups has put UC ahead of the game as it enters the CTSA planning process.  

The CTSA application is due Oct. 24, 2007. Working groups will complete draft narratives by the end of February.

Anyone interested in participating in the planning process should contact Susan Swearingen at or (513) 558-7540, or visit

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